Six Speakers, Six Days, Three Cities….. Impressions.

Gail Davis, 03 February 2016

There is nothing like going on the road to gain a new perspective or to remind you of the basics when it comes to event planning.

I spent 20 years working on the other side of booking speakers as the Director of Corporate Incentive Events at EDS and now for almost the same length of time, I have been on the bureau side.  I walked away from my recent onsite visits with this collection of thoughts: 

  • Travel is hard.  It rarely goes as planned.  Anything we can do to make it easier is value add. 
  • Sound checks, rehearsals, room familiarization. It all makes very good sense for a speaker to partake in before giving a presentation.  I am not sure why so many speakers fight this.  The investment for an organization to bring in an outside speaker is costly.  It includes not only the fee and travel expenses, but also the AV production required to support it.  Often a speaker is a part of a much larger event. Clients want the speaker to come to the ball room in advance to orient them to the space.  Perhaps reinforce the theme.  It also provides the opportunity for the client to introduce the speaker to the production team to make sure everyone is on the same page.  It makes sense. It is good manners.  Everyone needs to agree and take the time for this small, yet important step.
  • Introductions matter.  My best advice is to select someone who knows the speaker or is familiar with their work.  Do not put someone up there that cannot pronounce the speakers name and is only going to read from a sheet of paper. There are so many others options.  This is often what sets the mood for the keynote. It is important to set the speaker up to succeed. 
  • Establish game rules.  Do you want a provocative edgy presentation? Are you looking for someone to play it safe?  Do you want it rated G, PG-13, R?  These are not items to discuss after the event.  A good bureau partner will make sure you are matched with a speaker who fits the culture of your group.
  • If I could give one piece to every meeting planner, it would be this…. there is NEVER an excuse to have any wait staff during any speech.  Ever.  It is distracting. It is rude to the speaker and to audience members who are engaging in the speaker’s presentation. 

I hope these back to basic reminders are helpful.  I was once again reminded of the perspective one gets when they actually attend events.  At GDA Speakers we strive to never loose site of the objective…..a flawless speaker experience from initial consultation to final standing ovation.